Deni Mack believes reading Scripture led her to God.
“The Scriptures are listening to God,” she said. “They’re love stories of people who have listened to God and tried to write them down.”
Mack, pastoral associate at Church of the Assumption in Fairport, is one of the hundreds of Catholics in the Diocese of Rochester who plan on using Lent as an opportunity to become better acquainted with God by reading Scripture and spiritual literature.
Mack noted that about 200 of her parishioners will participate in about 20 reading groups this Lent. Some of the groups will meet in parish facilities, but most will meet in homes. The groups will be studying such books as the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola or Habits of the Soul: Learning to Live Life on Purpose, she said.
Habits, written by Linda Perrone Rooney, former director of lay ministry development for the Diocese of Orlando, Fla., is sometimes described as a Catholic response to The Purpose-Driven Life, a best-selling book written by the Rev. Rick Warren, a Southern Baptist. According to online blurbs about Habits, the book calls its readers to form “habits of joy and peace, habits of generosity and a love for the poor.”
“(Rooney) seems to be very much in touch with the faith, and how people are struggling to live it and deepen their relationship to God,” Mack said.
Most of the people at Assumption planning to participate in structured reading throughout Lent will be studying “Sunday By Sunday,” a weekly four-page reflection on the readings of the Sunday Mass, Mack said. Published by Good Ground Press of theSisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, “Sunday By Sunday” invites readers to reflect on and discuss Scripture, and to pray and do works of justice and mercy, according to Good Ground Press.
At St. Anne Parish in Rochester, teenaged and adult parishioners will be able to attend a video Bible study from 7 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays from March 8 through April 5, according to Joanie Bigham, the parish’s bulletin editor. In the video study, Father Donald Senior, CP, a Scripture scholar, will use various scenes of the Holy Land as a backdrop for his talks on Scripture. Those who choose to attend the study will be provided with suggested Scripture readings for review, Bigham added.
Events in the Holy Land, as seen through Mary’s eyes, are the perspective that informs Your Sorrows Are My Sorrows by Servant of Mary Sister Joyce Rupp. The book uses the traditional Seven Sorrows of Mary — from Simeon’s prophecy that a sword would pierce her soul to Jesus being laid in the tomb — as the basis for a meditative journey into spiritual reflection.
Sister of St. Joseph Catherine Gibbons, faith-formation coordinator at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Clyde, St. Patrick’s Parish in Savannah and St. Michael’s Parish in Lyons, said she’s offering the book for study and discussion on Wednesday mornings throughout Lent. She noted that older Catholics especially are drawn to Marian devotions and may find Your Sorrows to be an interesting way of looking at Mary’s fidelity to God’s call to be the mother of his son. She added that the book will help readers look at Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday through new eyes, namely Mary’s.
“To come at this as the mother of Jesus — it’s just a different way to reflect on these mysteries,” Sister Gibbons said.
All 150 families at St. Gabriel Parish in Hammondsport will receive a copy of Seasons of a Family’s Life: Cultivating the Contemplative Spirit at Home by Wendy M. Wright, professor of theology at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., and a mother of three. Sister of St. Joseph Anne Michelle McGill, the parish’s pastoral administrator, said all are invited to read the book during Lent then discuss it with Rosalyn A. Karaban, professor of pastoral counseling at St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry in Pittsford, during a Palm Sunday luncheon.
Sister McGill noted that her parish is offering the book because it emphasizes the need for family members to share their experiences of God with one another.
“I think children learn about spirituality more from family than they do from classes or anything else,” Sister McGill said. “Not only will they learn it, they will see it being lived out.”